Mom of Alabama Girls Basketball Team Backtracks Amid Trophy Outrage

The mom who sparked widespread outrage after claiming that the girls basketball team her daughter played for was denied a championship trophy after winning a boys tournament has now backtracked on her original comments.

Jayme Mashayekh, the mother of one of the fifth-grade players who made up a girls team representing Spain Park High School in Hoover City, in the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama, has posted an update on Facebook to say that a "lack of communication" was to blame.

Mashayekh had caused national outrage after saying that the girls team had been given an ultimatum about their practice facility—either play in the boys' championship or lose the opportunity to use the facility.

The girls went on to win the tournament, which was made up of boys teams as well as theirs, but the angry mom claimed that they had been denied their trophies as only a boys team could win.

Girls basketball
Kylee Watson #15 of Team Slam in action against Destiny Adams #23 of Team Next during the SLAM Summer Classic 2019 girls game at Dyckman Park. A basketball tournament in Hoover, Alabama has caused outrage over the awarding of trophies Getty Images

She has now admitted that a "lack of communication" had led to her misunderstanding the situation and has apologized for the furor her post on social media had caused.

Writing on Facebook as an update to her original post, Mashayekh said: "I apologize this post has had the implications it has. I now know this was not a decision based on gender, but instead lack of communication.

"At the time I was frustrated and felt like the girls were being singled out. I've now learned based on Coach Wes Russell's public statement that he was aware of this policy; however, most of the parents were not. One mom found out as her daughter made the winning free throw.

"From Coach Wes' message to the group last Thursday, 'the optics of what happened did not look good. But the city is trying to make it right. Let's allow them to make this right,' I agree and hope that improvements can be made in communicating rules, eligibility and expectations better in the future."

Mashayekh had congratulated the girls on their achievement in her original post, which sparked a huge backlash against the Hoover City Schools administration.

She wrote: "So proud of Rylie and her basketball team. It was a hard lesson they learned tonight. They won the 5th grade boys rec league championship but were not given the trophy.

"While it's definitely not about the trophy I don't think its a lesson we should be teaching our boys or girls in this day and age.

"These girls have played together for 3 years for a competitive girl's league representing Spain Park. All are 5th graders in the Hoover school system. Half way through their season they were told they could not use the Hoover gyms for their practices unless they paid to play in the Hoover rec league."

Mashayekh continued: "They were told to stay together as a team they had to play up a level in competition and play the 5th grade boys. The girls were middle of the pack throughout the season losing several close games by 1 point. Playing the boys was a challenge they rose to meet. It made them better players and a better team.

"They were told before the championship that they could play in it but if they won they wouldn't be allowed to have the trophy. 'Excuse me? What?' What did they do to get disqualified? Did they not pay their dues? Did they not play up a level in competition? Oh, it's because they're GIRLS?!?!"

The outraged mom concluded: "So sure enough these 5th grade girls played their hearts out, left it all on the floor and battled their male counterparts only to be told, 'No, I'm sorry you don't count.'

"I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed I have to tell my daughter that things like this still happen. I'm disappointed we teach our kids to accept things they have not earned (other than salvation which can not be earned). Most of all I'm disappointed in my city who won't allow some 5th grade girls to play basketball."

Girls basketball
Shayeann Day Wilson #4 of Team Slam in action during the SLAM Summer Classic 2019 girls game at Dyckman Park. The furious mom of a girls basketball team player has admitted that a "lack of communication" had caused her ire. Getty Images

The City of Hoover released a statement to Newsweek in which it said there had been some confusion over the participation in the tournament and that there hasn't been any discrimination.

"Questions have recently been raised about recognition of teams participating in a youth basketball tournament conducted by the Hoover Parks and Recreation Department (HPRD)," the statement said.

"For many years, the HPRD has allowed 'elite' teams based in Hoover to participate in tournaments they conduct. Those 'elite' teams are not sought out by HPRD, but rather they come to HPRD and ask to participate. Members of 'elite' teams are hand selected based of their skill level. They do not go through the same talent evaluation as those who participate on regular league teams. Therefore, 'elite' teams willingly agree to compete at levels above their grade range to ensure fair competition for all youth athletes. If an 'elite' team participates in a HPRD youth tournament, and makes it to the championship round, the rules state they cannot receive a trophy as a result of that win. Only the team that is grade-appropriate has ever been eligible to be recognized as the tournament champions. Coaches of the 'elite' teams are made aware of and agree to these rule at the time they request to participate.

"It is important to note the same provisions have always applied to both girls and boys 'elite' teams. HPRD has never treated any team differently based on gender or any other factor, except for the 'elite' status of some teams. To that point, in the same recent tournament that's been in question, a boys 'elite' team also won a championship game, but they were not named the champions because they were competing outside their grade group. This team included the son of a City of Hoover elected official. This clearly indicates that the same rules are applied to all teams regardless of gender.

"The two teams that won outside of their grade brackets have been invited to attend the Hoover City Council meeting Monday, March 6th, 2023 so that they can be recognized for their recent victories.

"The Hoover Parks and Recreation Department is reviewing all of its youth athletic league policies to ensure that all competition and recognition procedures are fair to all participants and that those procedures are more clearly understood."

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